Safety and OSHA News

This is what’s causing U.S. workers to be more fatigued

About one out of three U.S. workers gets less than six hours of sleep per night. A new study finds a primary cause of this sleep deprivation. 

The cause is work.

Paid work time is the primary activity that leads to less sleep. The study also suggests actions taken by employers could help prevent this type of sleep loss.

People sleeping six hours or less per night:

  • worked 1.55 more hours on weekdays
  • worked 1.86 more hours on weekends and holidays
  • started working earlier in the morning
  • stopped working later at night
  • traveled more
  • started traveling earlier in the morning
  • stopped traveling later in the evening, and
  • were more likely to be working multiple jobs.

The evidence of this is “overwhelming,” according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Mathias Basner, assistant professor of sleep and chronobiology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Adults working more than one job were 61% more likely than others to report sleeping six hours or less per night.

Basner says these results point to several possible solutions for workers’ lack of sleep:

  • greater flexibility in morning work start times
  • reducing the prevalence of people having multiple jobs, and
  • shortening morning and evening commute times.

The study shows with every hour that work started later in the morning, sleep time increased by 20 minutes. Those who woke up before 6 a.m. averaged only 6 hours of sleep. People who started work between 9 and 10 a.m. got an average of 7.29 hours of sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get about 7 to 9 hours of nightly sleep for optimal health, productivity and daytime alertness. In other words, not only will getting enough sleep make workers safer, it will increase their productivity.

The study was published in the December issue of the journal Sleep. Basner and his colleagues analyzed responses from 124,517 Americans who completed the American Time Use Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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